Who Was Plato, and What Is His Allegory of the Cave?

Who Was Plato, and What Is His Allegory of the Cave?
Plato was a Greek philosopher who lived from 428/427 to 348/347 BCE.1 He remains one the most prominent figures in Western philosophy, and people still study his works today. Born to aristocratic family, Plato was an educated young man. Over the course of his life, he founded his own school and developed the philosophy that endures today. Can learning about the Plato’s life, work, and his allegory of the cave lead us to learn what it means to be human?
Student and Teacher
Plato is a philosophical force in his own right, but he had a formidable influence in his formative years. He was among the young men drawn to Socrates and his ideas. As none of Socrates’s work is written, it is through much of Plato’s work that this famous philosopher is studied. Thank you Plato.
Later in life, Plato became a teacher himself and founded the Academy around 387 BCE.2 This school is often considered the first university.3 He lectured at the open-air school, attracting students from all over Greece. Among his most famous students was Aristotle, who would go on to become another major figure in Western philosophy.
Plato has a number of surviving works, which take the form of dialogues in which different characters discuss and analyze different ideas.3 In the more than 30 dialogues he wrote, Socrates is a key figure in nearly all. His dialogues are typically split into three different categories: early, middle, and late.4
The early dialogues are believed to be largely an exploration of Socrates’ ideas, while Plato’s own ideas begin to become clearer in the middle dialogues.3 “Republic,” one of the middle dialogues, is considered his greatest work.1 It is within this work that Plato delves into his allegory of the cave.5
The Allegory of the Cave
“Republic” is largely centered on justice and education, using a Philosopher-King as a key figure.6 Plato paints a picture of human beings living in a cave, shackled and facing the back of the cave. Behind them, fire allows them some light, but they are unable to turn their heads.
Other people behind those who are shackled carry different objects that cast shadows. Those who are chained can see the shadows but not the objects that cast them. Unable to turn, they assume the shadows are in fact the objects.7
Over time, those who are chained may be able to fight their bonds and begin to turn towards not only the firelight but also the sunlight that is at the entrance of the cave. They can begin to perceive the objects that cast the shadows instead of just the shadows. The light represents knowledge and the struggle to turn and see the light and what it reveals represents the truth and education.
We wonder what kind of ideas we think we know, only to be looking at the "shadows" instead of the truth. What is truth? We believe we can find the truth but only through really looking around and asking the right questions. Lots of humans tend to stick to what they believe without really hearing the other side, sticking to their bubble of thought without truly questioning what is. What do you think about Plato's Allegory of the Cave? 

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